Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is guardianship?

A guardianship is the appointment of an individual by the court to exercise all or some control over another individual's person and/or property. The appointment is usually made when an individual is incapable of exercising control for themselves. The person who is appointed by the court is referred to as the guardian, and the person who is subject; to the proceeding is referred to as the ward.

Who can become a guardian?

See Who may be appointed guardian of a resident ward.

What is a family guardian?

Refer to our Public information page.

Where can I get the training I've been told I must get?

Refer to our Educational Opportunities page

What if there is no family member available to be the guardian?

If a guardian is needed and no family member is available or willing, a Public Guardian or a Registered Professional Guardian may be appointed.

Are guardianships established for the elderly only?

No. Guardianships are also established for minors in several situations. For example, if a minor has received a settlement greater than $15,000.00, a guardian of his or her property must be appointed [FL statute §744.387(2)]. There are also instances where family members, such as grandparents, are appointed as guardians when the parents of the minor are unwilling or unable to care for the minor child.

I know someone who is in danger (exploited, neglected, etc.) What can I do?

You can call the Abuse Hotline (1 800 96-ABUSE) to file a confidential report.

What steps can I take if I know an individual that is incapable of caring for himself or herself?

If you are able and qualified to serve as guardian, you may petition to be appointed guardian through an attorney. The clerk's office may not give legal advice or guidance in completing the various guardianship forms and reports that are required by Florida statute. If you do not wish to be appointed guardian, it is possible that a professional or public guardian may be appointed.

Who appoints the guardian?

Guardianship matters are handled by the Circuit Court, Probate Section. The judge serving there will appoint a guardian.

What are the guardians responsibilities?

This depends upon the type of guardianship that has been established and the nature of the ward's incapacity or needs. Each guardianship is customized by the court to properly address the needs of the individual ward. A guardian can be appointed to represent the person or the ward's property, or both. See What a Guardian Is and Is Not and the Public Information page. You can also find details about the practice of guardianship on our Resources page.

How would I begin a guardianship proceeding?

You may petition the Court through an attorney.

How would I find an attorney who handles guardianship?

The Executive Office of the FSGA will be glad to refer you to an attorney in your area. Visit our Contact Us page for details.

What are a guardian's responsibilities?

Refer to What a Guardian Is and Is Not and our Public Information page.

Are there special proceedings for persons who are developmentally disabled, such as downs syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, prader-willI syndrome or mental retardation?

Yes, see our Public Information page for details about guardianship and guardian advocacy for the developmentally disabled.

What is a guardian advocate?

A Guardian Advocate may be appointed as a less intrusive and costly alternative to full guardianship. This may be appropriate in cases of developmental disability or mental illness. See our page on Public Information for details.

Who monitors the guardianship to insure that the ward's interests and assets are protected?

A guardian is required to submit periodic reports regarding the condition of the ward and/or the ward's assets. The clerk's office is responsible for the initial and annual reviews of these reports. After the reports are audited by the clerk, they are taken to the presiding guardianship judge for review and approval. If it appears that the guardian is not properly performing his or her duties, the court will take the necessary steps to protect the ward and/or their assets.

I have a complaint about a guardian. What can I do about him/her? Who do I call?

Guardians are responsible to the Court that appointed him or her. They must comply with the direction of the court and provide periodic reports. If you believe the guardian is not following the Court's direction, you can make that known to the Court. You may have to have the assistance of an attorney to do that. If you believe the Ward is neglected or abused, you can make a confidential report to the Abuse Hotline (1 800 96-ABUSE). If the guardian is a professional guardian certified by the national Center for Guardianship Certification, you may make a complaint to them.

I need a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to help with my child's custody/visitation dispute.

Members of the Florida State Guardianship Association generally do not practice in this area and we are unable to make any referrals.

Is there a public guardian in my area?

The Statewide Public Guardianship Office maintains the list of Public Guardians. You can see the list at their website.

How can I become a professional guardian?

Professional Guardians are regulated by the Statewide Public Guardianship Office (SPGO) in the Department of Elder Affairs. Basically, one must complete an approved 40-hour course, pass a competency exam, purchase a $50,000 general bond, and file an application with SPGO including a credit report and a criminal background check.

We recommend that everyone collaborate with other professional guardians in their area. You don't learn everything you need to know from one course and local practices vary.

SPGO - has a very helpful web site

Offerings of the 40-hour course are shown at CEBroker. Choose Course Search, Professional Guardian, and then Initial 40 Hour Course.

After I take the guardianship course and exam how can I find a job as a guardian?

Practice as a professional guardian in much like any other independent professional offering services. Referrals come from networking, building a reputation and visibility. Being a member of the Florida State Guardianship Association is an important part of that. See our Membership page for details.

How much do guardians earn?

Rates of compensation are determined by the Court appointing the guardian. Rates vary widely across the state. Contacting one of our local chapters is the best approach. See our Chapter Info page.

How do I gain practical experience?

We recommend you work with an established and experienced professional guardian. The Statewide Public Guardianship Office is developing a mentoring program to facilitate this. Until that is ready, contact one of our chapters or the Executive Office for assistance.

Will I need an attorney to represent me as a guardian?

Yes, you will need to select an attorney to represent you in the legal matters associated with guardianship.

Who pays for my attorney?

Both the attorney and the guardian are compensated from the assets of the ward at the direction of the Court.

Will I ever have to go to court? Will I ever have to testify?

Yes, you will likely attend hearings at the Court. It is possible you would be required to testify. You will be represented by an attorney to assist you.

Is guardianship an adversarial proceeding?

It may be. Sometimes disputes between family members are addressed by the court. Some other disputes may arise as well.

Will I need a bond?

Professional guardians are required to have a $50,000 general bond which they must purchase. The Court may require additional bond based on the assets being managed. That is generally paid for by the ward.

Will I need continuing education hours to remain in good standing as a professional guardian? How will I earn them?

Yes, professional guardians are required to demonstrate 16 hours of continuing education every two years. The Florida Sate Guardianship Association offers continuing education, particularly through our annual conference. Next year we will be offering our 25th Annual Conference in St. Petersburg. See our Conference page for more details.

What is CEBroker?

CEBroker is a commercial entity that manages continuing education for many professions, including professional guardians. You will have an account on CEBroker where your credits will be recorded.

Where can I find my continuing education credits?

Go to CEBroker and use your credentials to access your account. Your credentials are provided by the Statewide Public Guardianship Office when your registration is approved.

Is there a local, state, or national association for guardians?

Yes, the Florida State Guardianship Association is the only statewide organization representing guardians and guardianship. Learn more about the FSGA at our About Us page. FSGA is affiliated with the National Guardianship Association. See more info about them at their website.

Is there an annual guardianship conference?

Yes, the FSGA is proud of our long tradition of hosting an annual conference. It is the premier event for guardians and others interested in guardianship. Our 25th Annual Conference will be in St. Petersburg in July 2012. See our Conference page for more details.

What is SPGO (Statewide Public Guardianship Office)?

The Statewide Public Guardianship Office, housed within the Department of Elder Affairs, appoints local public guardian offices as directed by statute to provide guardianship services to persons who do not have adequate income or assets to afford a private guardian and there is no willing family or friend to serve. SPGO is also responsible for the registration of Professional Guardians. See their website for more details.

What is the FSGA?

FSGA is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1983 for the improvement of guardianship services. Governed by a Board of Directors representing five geographical areas of the State, FSGA is dedicated to promoting the protection, dignity, and value of incapacitated persons through ethics, advocacy, and the dissemination of information. FSGA's mission also includes a focus on furthering the professionalization of guardians as accountable court representatives through education, networking, and legislative action. See more details on our About Us page.

I'm a court-appointed examiner. Where can I get the required training?

FSGA can help with both the initial 4-hour training as well as the annual 2-hour update. See our Education page for details on how to order the training.

When and where is the next annual conference?

The 25th Annual Conference will be at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg. The Conference will be July 19th through the 21st. See the Conference page for more details.

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